Wednesday, June 17, 2015


This week my wife Ines and I decided to clear our basement where we stored boxes of old pictures, going back 40 or 50 years. We were younger then, and surrounded by parents, grandparents, uncles and cousins who infused meaning into our lives. Alas, those days are gone forever, and we are only left with colorful images.

The biblical poet urges us to “Remember the days of old” (Deut. 32:7), and that is good.  In the same spirit, an anonymous author stated that pictures capture the moments in our lives for many tomorrows. “Many”-- in our lives, yes; “forever”-No! Some of these treasured memories are meaningful to us who lived the moment, and may have some significance for our children, but what about our grandchildren and their own kids? I doubt it. They may take a curious look at them, and that’s it. Unless one is extremely well-known beyond one’s immediate circle, most pictures are meant for the close family members of one or two generations, at most. These are “our” pictures, “our” recollections. By looking at them, we briefly relive the moment. Others will have their own images that will sustain them in their lives.

Among the treasures we found were pictures of our respective parents’ early years as well as those taken during major celebrations and notable life-cycle events, such as Ines’ “quinceaƱera” (when she turned 15), other weddings and Bar/t Mitzvas. I retrieved one of my parents’ engagement; one taken during my high school days, a great one of me wearing a Turkish army uniform; pictures of our kids’ birth; early travels. I even found one showing my long dark hair and no facial hair. When my grandchildren look at them, they will not stop laughing: “You look so different” they will say; “You were so young,” or even “Is that you?”

What is the message? I like what Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish author,  once said: “Life is short, and we should respect every moment of it.” I personally do not believe in the hereafter, and consider our life on earth precious and worthy of living, hopefully in relative good health, but fully, cheerfully and creatively, leaving a good name behind.  

My wife and I did not keep all the pictures; in fact, we discarded most of them, but saved a few that will still bring a smile to our faces, and perhaps a chuckle among our grandchildren. 

C’est la vie!

Rifat Sonsino

June 17, 2015